The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries
The triforium is a large medieval gallery around 70 feet up from the nave floor, created as part of the church constructed by Henry III in the 13th century. This area has never been accessible to the public and for nearly 800 years has been used as storage for many things, including some of the Abbey’s artefacts which it has not had the space to display. As part of a substantial ongoing project, Westminster Abbey has been converting the eastern end of the triforium into an impressive gallery, which will give the opportunity to display the many wonderful objects within the Abbey’s collections.
The galleries will include four thematic areas – The Nation’s Memory, The Buildings, Worship and Daily Life and The Abbey and the Monarchy. Within these areas there will be the opportunity to see some of the Abbey’s treasures such as the Westminster Retable, England’s oldest altarpiece. Alongside the wonderful content in the galleries visitors will also have the opportunity to look at the magnificent view across the nave of the Abbey, described by John Betjeman as ‘the best view in Europe’.
This project, which has been in development for many years, will finally reach completion early next year. Many things have had to take place to get to this point as the space, although magnificent, was never designed with this in mind. The main issue that had to be addressed was finding a way to allow visitors to access the triforium, as the current spiral staircase would not be suitable for large numbers or people requiring special assistance. The exciting solution to this was to build an external access tower which will sit outside the Abbey by Poets’ Corner. This tower will be the first physical addition to the Abbey church since the iconic West Towers were completed in 1745. Work has already begun on the tower which has been designed by Ptolemy Dean, the Abbey’s Surveyor of the Fabric.
Due to the large cost of undertaking such a big project the Abbey is currently still fundraising; if you would like to help Westminster Abbey make history with this project, you can find out more by clicking here. This is a fantastic opportunity to make a substantial contribution to Westminster Abbey and change the course of its history.